PRISMS: Five Artists Make Magic With Light
through Friday, March 23
Fellows of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
By Patrick Quinn
Can light be art? Or more to the point, can one manipulate light to create art? It’s a unique creative medium that most would associate with the Burning Man Festival rather than a respected art museum. But it was the L.A. County Museum of Art that presented the incredibly popular Dan Flavin retrospect in 2007. Ten years later, James Turrell’s “Breathing Light” installation had lines out the LACMA doors. Today, there are even longer lines at the Broad for Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrored Room”. Light captivates us – it’s magical. The PRISM exhibit currently showing at the Fellows of Contemporary Art manages to capture its own bit of magic.
FOCA is a non-profit organization that sponsors creative programs, awards grants, and also maintains a gallery in Chinatown. A few blocks from the main action on Chung King Road, their gallery is on the 2nd level of a somewhat anonymous former mini-mall. With the glass wall and door blacked out for this show, it’s easy to miss. This makes the work waiting inside that much more of a surprise.
The show was curated by two of its artists, Cassie Riger and Mak Kern. The project arose during a road trip to Antelope Valley to see the poppy fields. What began as a casual conversation on the challenges of working with light turned into a passionate debate. What does working with light as a medium really mean? Is it spiritual? Is it functional? Why is the work important and what inspires them? One of the answers to that last question provided the stimulus for this group show: the iconic cover art for Pink Floyd’s seminal album, The Dark Side of the Moon.
For this show, the gallery is pitch black. The only light is the art itself and the computer screen of the woman working in the far corner. There are only five pieces in the show which allows each one its own identity in the darkness.
Upon entering, the viewer first encounters Mak Kern’s Light Instrument / Chime Lantern. The assembled glass pieces are large but delicate. The artist’s goal is to use light as a means to invoke and awaken mindfulness.
To the left, the viewer is immediately attracted to Hiromi Takizawa Shipment from California. The first impression is of a fragile stack of soap bubbles set on a white box. Neon lights inside the box create a shaft of hazy rainbow colors in the air above.
In the opposite corner is Devin Kenny’s delicate and crystalline 3D lamp with the intriguing title of mutinying avid noose coofeehouses, distance terning is hollower wachung him. Set on a black base, the lamp seems to be floating in the darkness.
With Isabel Theselius’s Zzzz, light is treated as an elusive material that signals gaps between words and cognition – a dream state.
Lastly, inspired by the recent presidential election coverage, Cassie Riger has created news (orange). As slides project on the wall, a rotating mobile spins silhouettes through the projector’s light beam. The effect is almost strobe-like emphasizing that in this case, light is seen as a means of mind control.
Referencing the Pink Floyd artwork, the artists have stated that they, like a prism, are aiming to clarify, to show a spectrum, to make delightful rainbows dance across the walls. That they have certainly done.
The show runs through Friday, March 23 and will feature special performances by artists Rebecca Bruno and Krysten Cunningham on March 17th from 5:00 to 8:00pm.
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